Social selling is all the rage these days, and small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners have reasons to get excited.
More than a buzzword, social selling is generating significant gains for businesses. Social selling expert Mario Martinez Jr, for example, used it to drive US$2 million in revenue in only four months, according to Inc. article, 3 Ways You're Forgetting the 'Social' in Social Selling.
Here’s all you need to know about social selling and how you can start using this new approach.
Social selling is not about selling
Social selling can be defined as using social networks to pinpoint prospects, build trusted relationships and, ultimately, boost sales. Compared to social marketing, which broadcasts messages to as many people as possible, social selling involves nurturing one-on-one relationships with prospects.
Most importantly, social selling isn’t about closing the deal. Rather, it aims to provide genuine value to a potential customer, contact or influencer. Delivered in the optimum place and time, this approach not only helps you win customers but also attract talent, establish credibility and promote ideas.
Essentially, social selling works by finding prospects and getting them to know, like and trust you. This new approach is important for small businesses for one key reason: buying and selling has changed dramatically in the past decade.
As IBM Analytics’ CMO and vice president of marketing Jeff Spicer told CMO.com, today’s buyers are “increasingly looking to their peers and to social networks for information about products and services before they engage with traditional sales organisations”.
This shift is especially prominent in Singapore, which, at 69 per cent active social network users as a percentage of the total population, far exceeds APAC’s average of 35 per cent.
While SMBs need new approaches to reach prospects online, customers are also willing to engage in an entirely new way with businesses in the social space. Here’s how you can start social selling.
Polish your online brand
The first step to social selling is to renovate your online brand.
Ensure consistency. All customer touchpoints should promote your brand and attract the right prospects. Update photos, headlines and summaries on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and all other platforms you use.
Then prepare your team for interacting. Jennifer S Tomlinson, senior marketing manager, Microsoft Partner Network, says salespeople engaging in social selling must be able to confidently answer several key questions. Most importantly, how do you provide value to your target audience? Also, how can you demonstrate your expertise to prospects?
Listen and learn
Before you engage with a prospect, you need to know them inside and out. Use social media to research your targets. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms offer a wealth of information, not only about people’s career and work activities but also their viewpoints, likes and dislikes.
The key, as Tomlinson says, is to gain insights into the challenges your audience is facing. You can then provide true value by matching their needs to your company’s expertise and solutions.
Build trusted relationships
Once you know your prospect, you're ready to engage with them and nurture a trusted relationship. Trust takes time to build, but can be done by having genuine conversations, being customer centric (putting your prospects’ needs first) and sharing relevant information about common challenges.
One tested approach is to identify the optimum time to offer special services that strengthen customer relationships. For instance, The Beverly Hilton used social listening tools to identify guests celebrating special occasions and delighted them by providing tailored amenities. This boosted the hotel’s brand sentiment ratings by 50 per cent!
Sansan’s cloud-based contact management system also allows companies to track such customer details, thus ensuring that you make the most out of every valuable relationship and, ultimately, advance your business goals.
Social selling is a powerful tool for SMBs, which can supercharge your brand and increase sales. To make your social selling strategy most effective, you need to manage the relationships you initiate and build.